Thursday, February 17, 2011

Painless Pickling

by Lauren Rauh

I used to think pickling was for those who were super crafty and had lots of time on their hands. I listened with wide-eyed wonderment at tales of tasty, tart homemade pickles and exclaimed sheer admiration when such time-consuming treasures were brought to potlucks and parties.
I decided for my first attempt at pickling, I would pickle kohlrabi. Kohlrabi looks like a turnip, but tastes a little like cabbage, and has the texture and firmness of a broccoli stem. It’s an odd vegetable, to say the least. It does, however, have a claim to fame as a superfood (packed with antioxidants) and I am not one to shun a superfood.
I researched some basic pickling recipes and unfortunately did not have many of the spices called for. So this is my pared down, but very tasty pickling recipe, prime for experimentation. One quick note: the recipe that follows is for a refrigerator pickle. This means that unlike pickles that have been canned (this involves boiling the jar, having a special canning lid, etc.) these go straight in the refrigerator and stay there, they cannot sit out on your shelf for months and months and months unless you wish to research the process of mold growth. As my container, I used an empty 16-ounce salsa jar and washed it thoroughly with hot soapy water. So save your glass jars and make some pickles.
The pickle:

3 kohlrabi, sliced in ¼ inch matchsticks

The brine:
½ cup white vinegar

¾ cup water

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 Tbsp sugar 

1 tsp salt

1 tsp chili flakes

5 pepper corns

Wash and slice your kohlrabi. Place the kohlrabi slices in a colander and salt them lightly. Let it sit for about an hour to draw out the excess moisture (this is not a necessary step, but it does make a crisper pickle). Drain the kohlrabi and place in your clean pickle jar. In a small saucepan, combine the brine ingredients, adding a teaspoon of additional spices (i.e. mustard seed, dill seed, etc.) if you wish. Bring the ingredients to a boil and pour into the pickle jar. Stir slightly so bubbles come to the top and tightly twist on the jar lid.
Let the jar sit out until the contents have cooled then store your pickles in the back of the refrigerator. The pickles should sit unopened for at least a day, but the longer they sit the more flavorful they will be (that’s why you should put them in the back of the fridge). I held out for a week and it was worth the wait.

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